Sale of the Content Marketing Institute

The most popular news story about content marketing over the past week was the sale of the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) to UBM. For those who like numbers, it went for $17.6m (£12m).

Firstly an admission. Although the CMI’s comment pieces and how-tos have not engendered much enthusiasm here at FirstWord Towers, we have sporadically used the organisation’s annual research and this has proved quite helpful.

The sale brought to light some interesting facts. From the news coverage, it would seem the CMI’s principal asset is the Content Marketing World conference – which last year took place in Cleveland and counted John Cleese among its speakers.

Events are where it’s at

In 2015, around $9m in revenue came from events and $3m from activity such as marketing services. One would assume UBM, which does a lot of work in events, is going to concentrate on Content Marketing World and other CMI-related conferences.

This leaves one asking what will happen to the CMI’s content output? And whether, with so much noise out there, how-to articles with headlines such as ‘What Should Your Content Marketing Priorities Be in 2016?’ and ’10 Content Strategy Practices That Will Make You a Better Marketer in 2016′ have much cut-through in today’s world.

In posing this question, it is worth examining how the CMI originated. Formerly known as Junta42, it was launched in 2007 by Joe Pulizzi in response to brands seeking help with content marketing.

Back then, it made a lot of sense. Content marketing as we currently know it – creating high-quality articles and content for brand platforms – was in its relative infancy.

Now it is different. And the world and his wife are attempting to run the same sorts of articles around how to produce content marketing. Indeed, there are even articles showing how to write how-to articles.

Maybe UBM is asking the same question. Perhaps the sale should be seen as a (small) step in the evolution of content marketing. The sector’s future could be better promoted by pushing Content Marketing World into other theatres outside of the US.

Just so long as UBM keeps publishing those annual research reports…

Sale of the Content Marketing Institute is part of Content24, the blog for London content marketing agency FirstWord.